Placing faith in Jesus Christ was not as difficult for me, as it is for some others. I was privileged to grow up in a home where church life was considered very important. Through the strong influence of my mother, there was no question about being involved in church, Sunday School, BB and Christian Endeavour. Besides, as the youngest of five sons in a large family, I was always aware that two oldest brothers were studying for the Presbyterian Ministry.
I made a public profession of my faith as a teenager in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, during a mission conducted by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, celebrated minister of the People’s Church, Toronto.
While I could not say I have a favourite text, several verses have proved pivotal at different stages. Paul’s words, ‘You are not your own; you were bought at a price’, ( 1 Corinthians 5;19,20) played a part in my decision to study for the ministry, after completing my law degree at Queen’s University Belfast.
During service as an assistant in Bloomfield, Belfast, 6 years in Templepatrick and 31 years in Coleraine, I have tried to live, however inadequately, by two guiding verses; the word of Jeremiah, ‘Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.’ (Jeremiah 45;5) and the word of John the Baptist, ‘He must become greater, I must become less’ (John 3;30)
I have never been comfortable with those who say, ‘Trust in Jesus and all will be fine’. The Christian life is a perpetual challenge and struggle—a ‘sore fight to the end’—but to my mind, it is the only thing that makes sense of our wonderful but bewildering world.